Thursday, May 12, 2005

Naked and Ashamed

Sometimes, I don't trust my own words. My last blog entry left me feeling raw and exposed, and I've avoided coming back for fear that I've shown you too much of me.

Once, I had a baby. He was stillborn. Tiny enough to fit in the palm of my hand. When I first saw him, right out of the womb, I looked, then turned my face from him. He was so tiny. He was so undone. It was like I was seeing something that only God should see.

I felt like I told something only God should hear. Some of you have said that my story can set others free, but I have to wonder. Maybe women like me sit weaving their collective silences into a tapestry to keep us safe and warm. Maybe there's a reason that Jesus said, "Tell no one." Maybe telling raises the stakes too high, or brings them down too low.

A few days ago, my son came to me, the boy I wrote about. He said he read my blog at school, and for a moment, neither of us said anything. I waited for him to tell me how disappointed he was. How I revealed terrible family secrets. How I wrote about his father and he felt violated. But that's not what he said. He said, "You must have a great destiny. You've been through so much."

I don't feel like I have a great destiny. I feel as fragile as a christmas bulb. Drop me and I break into hundreds of tiny, yet colorful pieces, never to be whole again. Ever.

I don't know. I just feel like when I wrote that last entry, I left a safety zone I use to feel here, and I'm not sure how to fix it.

So what do I do, when I come here, feeling like Eve, banished from the Tree of Life, naked, and ashamed? How 'bout pray? And praying the psalms, even better.

Psalms 23

The Lord is my shepherd,
I shall not want;
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me besides still waters;
He restores my soul.
He leads me in the path of righteousness
for His names sake.
Even though I walk through
the valley of the shadow of death.
I fear no evil,
for Thou art with me,
Thy rod and Thy staff,
they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
Thou anointest my head with oil,
my cup runneth over,
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me,
all the days of my life;
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord

Ah, now that feels better. Maybe I'll see you here again. Maybe not. We'll see, beloved. We'll see.


s-p said...

Dear Mair,
The greatest risk a human being can take is to expose their inner self not their physical bodies. The women who expose their bodies are incapable of exposing the pain that drives them to do such a thing. That would be too risky and would require a spiritual strength and center they do not possess.

"We have this treasure in earthen vessels" St. Paul says. The incomprehensible gifts of God in fragile clay pots. If we ever believe we are strong, invulnerable and unbreakable we are deluded.

Tell your stories, at the core of faith is risk. The woman at the well went home and said "Come see the man who told me everything I have done!" She was not ashamed of her stories because Christ knew them too.

Larry said...

Raga, I forgot in my other comment to thank you for telling your story. What did I, a middle-aged man who never can experience the depth of those little deaths you described, receive from your story of pain? I got courage. I heard, from someone whose story is even more desperate than mine, about not quitting because God's grace is there.

I heard a story that's painful enough in itself but made even more painful because of the self-judgment. The events you described happened once. The self-judgment, as it has in my life, goes on forever unless the Holy Spirit takes me back through it so that he can show me that self-judgment isn't the way to handle it.

Life by example is the best teacher. Others read your writing. Who really knows what they receive? The more truth there is in a story the more people can receive from it, unlike those sugar-coated "devotionals" so carefully crafted to offend no one.

You can skate across the top of the pond, looking down through clear ice at the mess in the water. Some believe that this gives you enough experience to write about it and help others. I don't agree. The Holy Spirit breaks the ice. He certainly has in my life, and I'm not very happy about it most of the time. I hope he knows what he's doing, as I thrash around in things I thought I'd put behind many years ago.

I was having dinner with a friend last night. He told me a hair-raising story of a woman he counselled who'd been abused, raped, and all the other things that go along with with that. What amazed my friend the most was her matter-of-fact statement. "I was raped, by three men, when I was 14." As if she'd been talking about going to the grocery store. My friend questioned her on this. She said "Oh, it's past now. You just have to get beyond it."

We all learn to put plaster over the wounds. The Holy Spirit deals with healing, not covering, and he has to take the plaster off. Ouch. Reading your story gives me some courage to go ahead and let him do his work.

Thank you, Raga. I'm glad God is blessing you richly, and healing you of self-judgment. And I'm glad you have the guts to write about it in truth.

Katy said...

Muffin, I'm not surprised you feel that way--I'm sure I'd feel the same. But let me tell you, when I read your post, I felt I was standing on holy ground.

It made me consider the character I'm writing, and ask, did I tell her story honest enough? Did I tell the whole story? Did I tell it as if it were holy ground, or did I trivialize it?

It reminded me of all that lies beneath the surface of the people I see every day. It made me ask if I treated their inner selves with enough respect, if I treated their souls like holy ground.

I pray that you will know the fragile joy of the burning bush - on fire, but not destroyed.

"Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything." 2Cor. 6:4-10, NIV

Candy said...

You do have a great destiny and I thank God that your son sees that in you. Even if your destiny is only to sit and type truth into a computer that shows up as words on a screen all over the world, you have been obedient. I have dark secrets too. I have only begun to tell them recently. I feel at times stronger for it and at times naked and ashamed. I know how you feel exactly. I pray that stronger wins. And I mean it. I only love you more.

bobbie said...

oh my raga - please don't be ashamed. i was one of those women you helped, really. not much has broken through lately, but those words, your story had the effect that little else has done.

your son is right - and he has an amazing destiny too - god is going to do big things with you all. redemption is at hand. the greater the pain and trial the greater the salvation. for as low as we sink we are then able to reach the heights unreached by those who don't know of pain and suffering.

please don't be ashamed dear friend. naked, yes, you bared your soul - you are so brave, so incredibly courageous, but you have no reason to be ashamed.

much, much love!

sabbath day's journey said...

Your sharing --- your honesty and vulnerability --- will never push us away. It will only draw us.

Geo said...

Please don't go away. But if you must we understand and wait for your return. You my sister are a gift that we love and cherish. Be at peace and know we all love you no strings attached.


Paula said...

I recently sold a story that included a secret. Something only a tiny handful of people knew about me and my weaknesses. I almost didn't write it fully. It would have probably sold without the whole thing. I'm afraid of it. But it had to be told. Women needed to know how far my pain took me because it has taken some of them there as well. It was a choice to tell. I bravely chose. But I don't want anyone to read it. :o)

You didn't chose, I don't think, sistie. It had to come out. And it came out just when it should. God used the book to pull it out. Now it's in the big, old world, not just hiding in your soul, trying to consume it.

Leave it out there. Don't let the exposure shove it back down into a silent tomb, ticking like a bomb.

You put it out. You spoke it a loud. You cried from your soul. And it was right. It is no longer you and doesn't want to cower inside of you anymore.

Think about, Sistie. What happened when you flung it out there?

You helped others be brave. You received words of destiny from your son. One blogger said she loved you more than ever.

Of course you felt naked before us, but we do not turn from you in your nakedness. We marvel at the greater beauty and strength revealed.

Don't hide, Sistie. Your glory and beauty, the grace of the Father, the work He is doing all sing praise.

Don't go away. Don't shove the memories back inside. Leave them out here and don't let them hide in the corners and consume you. They aren't you. Don't let them define you or be you. They are experiences. Horrible experiences.

You are beauty. You are grace. You are His glory.

spiritual ingenue said...

God has been prompting me to share my own secrets because I know it's time, but I have been stalling for fear of fulling "going there" again.

Your story breathed bravery into my spirit and for the first time I'm ready to set my own memories free.

blessings over you friend,

spiritual ingenue said...

God has been prompting me to share my own secrets because I know it's time, but I have been stalling for fear of fulling "going there" again.

Your story breathed bravery into my spirit and for the first time I'm ready to set my own memories free.

blessings over you friend,

upwords said...

I keep typing things and deleting them because none of them seems the right thing to say. You and that beautiful son have a glorious destiny. Your courage helps the rest of us stay real, keep from fading into a film of Jesus-speak and fakeness. It is hard to cross caution tape, to go back to the scene of the crime, but sometimes we have to.

I love you.

Jaime H. said...

You have the courage to make yourself vulnerable. I can't do that, yet.

You truly are my hero.